by Denise Dykstra
Our school played their last football game of the season Friday. Some time ago, our small school transitioned to eight-man football and this year our youngest son played a lot of defense.
The Clippers have been rolling over other teams, and we knew that Friday night was going to be a battle. The winner of the game headed up to Marquette for the state championship finals. In the end, the score was us 14 and them 36.
Our players could still hold their heads high.
When we moved our family into town a little over a handful of years ago, we weren’t sure how we would like it. Neither my husband or I have ever lived in a small town setting and we wondered what it would be like to raise our nearly grown boys in such a place.
While I could rest easy in a remote place and be just fine and happy, I have to admit that living in town has been one of the best gifts. One is seeing all the people who go out of their way to make life all the better for others.
Thursday night before the big game, the available moms of the football players gathered in the high school to make signs for all the players. We were so studious (and so tired) that we didn’t chit chat much, we just cranked out all kinds of yard signs. We glittered letters and drew footballs on yard signs that we then placed in yards in the deep dark known also known as 8 pm.
With our yard being on the main road of our little village, we had three signs to cheer on our players. Our neighbor across the street took two more. We wanted the players to know we were cheering for them as they arrived at school the next morning.
When it was time for the team to leave on Friday afternoon, the fire department led the buses out of town and I was able to whoop and holler from my front yard as they drove by. The fun of having a home on the main road is your kiddo always knows where to look for you.
There have been many afternoons where “the boys” need a place to land for an hour until practice, and it’s often here. They know where the cookie jar is, they know where to drop their stuff and they know who to send to ask me if all of them can sleep over after the game. And while I enjoy having the boys all land here, there needs to be shout outs to…
• The mom who pulled off making sure every player was fed a full meal before they had a game this entire season. She also managed to have pizza delivered to their bus after a game!
• The photographer/videographer who faithfully made a video of highlights from the game every week.
• The photographer who gave up her time to make sure the team had some great action shots.
• The school board member who is a nurse and took the entire day off of work to make sure the boys were properly taped up before heading off to that last game of the season.
• To the mom who called around to get all the blank yard signs for us and then brought them all up to the school for us to use.
• The little crew that gathered up water bottles, poured in some rocks and gravel and passed them out to the crowd for noise makers at the game.
• And while we see the coaches who are some of our boys’ biggest cheerleaders, we can’t forget the wives who are at home supporting their football husbands while they parent alone for football season.
There are so many others who just serve their community quietly without thinking twice about it. There are so many people who show up, give up their time to help others and leave before anyone even realizes they were there.
I am blessed to know so many of these people well enough to call them friends.
When we showed up to watch the last game of the season, the stands could not hold us. Our tiny little school showed up in three buses and a parking lot full of suburbans and pickup trucks. Our cheering section of parents, students, community members and relatives far outnumbered the home team we were at. I knew full well why our tiny little home town was busy with traffic at 12:30 in the morning when we all arrived back home.
Yes, our team was defeated in the end. Our seniors walked off the field never to play for their school football team again. But never would they ever be considered losers. Never would they think no one cared about them.
This little community has one of the biggest hearts and I am blessed enough to have a front porch view to it all. With a support team like this, how can you not win? Our football season may have ended, but our community is still here cheering.
What great things there are to come. What a great gift it is to watch this community’s heart as well as be a part of it.